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Presidential debates should probe Romney's economic insanity

COMMENTARYPresident Obama and Mitt Romney may be scheduled for their first of three debates Wednesday, but there is really no debate when it comes to the progre
Karl Frisch
by Karl Frisch


President Obama and Mitt Romney may be scheduled for their first of three debates Wednesday, but there is really no debate when it comes to the progress we have made on jobs and how much further along on the path to recovery we might be if the GOP would just get out of the way.

Let us start with a primer on the facts for those just tuning in and our tea party brethren who fumble for their grasp on reality.

By the time Barack Obama was sworn into office in January of 2009, we were losing hundreds of thousands of jobs each month with the number reaching nearly 1 million some months. For that, we can thank the reckless economic policies of George W. Bush and the most corrupt and unethical Republican Congressional majority in a century.

After signing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, saving the American auto industry, and about a year of tough, focused work, President Obama brought the Bush job losses to a halt and ushered in 30 straight months of private sector job grown. Thus far, that is 4.6 million private sector jobs in total.

I write "private sector" with purpose. When President Bush oversaw the end of a significantly smaller recession in 2003, he did so thanks in no small part to an assist in the form of increased public sector employment — you know, government workers like teachers, firefighters, and police officers.

While President Obama saw the worst economic situation since the Great Depression as a call to action for millions in need, Republicans in power across the country saw it as an opening to cripple public employee labor unions which have traditionally supported their opponents. Public sector layoffs began with great conservative zeal.

The politicization of our national economic crisis was not surprising. Remember, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has regularly stated that the number one goal for Senate Republicans is making Obama a one-term President while other GOP leaders like vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan participated in a secret meeting to discuss strategies for crippling the newly minted Obama presidency on the very night of his inauguration.

If "public sector" employment had instead increased under Obama's tenure at the same pace it had during the Bush years, we would be looking at nearly 1.5 million more jobs on the books, which would lower the unemployment rate by almost a single point to 7.1 percent.

With the success of Obama's Recovery Act and other initiatives threatening the GOP's "one-term" machinations for the President, the Republican Party has stood in the way of almost every White House economic initiative including the American Jobs Act, which would have been good for as many as 2.6 million additional jobs.

Is it any wonder that Republicans have become the Party of no? If they had said yes, our unemployment might be in the range of 5.5 to 6.5 percent by now and the President would be kicking Mitt Romney's rear end even more thoroughly than he is already.

Despite Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus' claim that Republicans have "specifics coming out of our eyeballs," Romney has been mum when it comes to the details of his job creation plans.

The GOP standard-bearer might as well be a ventriloquist dummy operated by George W. Bush. After all, he is using the same policy rhetoric employed by our most recent failed Republican President -- cut taxes on the wealthy so it trickles down to the rest of us, reduce spending on programs that help working families in need, and gut consumer protections and government regulations to pad the bottom lines of corporations that are already doing quite well.

With the spirit of Bush influencing Romney's words on the campaign trail should we not assume that the former Massachusetts Governor's legislation-signing hand would be equally possessed by Bushian demons if it ever managed to find itself in the Oval Office?

Three quarters of the first presidential debate are rightfully reserved for discussing economic issues. Since Mitt Romney's approach to creating jobs would be the political equivalent of doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result, I am hoping Jim Lehrer of PBS -- the debate's moderator -- will devote considerable time probing Romney's economic insanity.

Copyright © 2012, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Karl Frisch is Democratic political strategist at Bullfight Strategies based in Washington, DC. He can be reached at This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.